President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday commissioned the new three million metric tonnes capacity per annum state-of-the-art Dangote Fertiliser Urea Plant, during which he expressed confidence that the project would give a huge fillip to Nigeria’s agricultural sector.
The new plant, which he commissioned in the presence of some 18 governors, ministers, captains of industry as well as prominent traditional rulers, is located at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos Free Trade Zone, within the periphery of the Dangote Refinery.
The president said the coming on stream of the plant would create huge opportunities in the areas of employment, trade, warehousing, transport and logistics.
The plant, according to the president, “will greatly create wealth, drastically reduce poverty and secure the future of our nation.”
He said, “In the agricultural sector, another focal point of our economic policy, we expect a boom as fertiliser is now readily available. Many Nigerians who hitherto practised subsistence farming because of non-availability of necessary inputs can now take up agriculture as a business. We expect a rise of new breed of agropreneurs who will add value to farming and make the nation self-sufficient in food production.”
According to him, the federal government is now determined more than ever before to provide enabling environment for private sector investors to thrive, adding that his government would continue to improve on infrastructure, power, security and enact relevant laws and regulations that would drive investments in the economy.
President Buhari reiterated that part of the government’s effort in this regard was the partnership with the private sector via a tax credit scheme, in the rehabilitation of roads across Nigeria under the Presidential Order No. 7.
“As we all know, good roads contribute to easy movement of goods and services across the nation, thus reducing cost of doing business and improving productivity. We are also rehabilitating our railway lines and building new ones to lessen the burden on our roads and create more effective multi-model transportation networks,” he added.
In his speech, president of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, described the new plant as a game changer, as it had the capacity to make Nigeria self-sufficient in fertiliser production, with spare capacity to export to other markets in Africa and the rest of the world.
He added that, already, Dangote Fertiliser had reached the markets in the US, Brazil and Mexico.
According to him, the fertiliser plant, which is the largest granulated urea fertiliser complex in Africa, occupies 500 hectares of land, was built at a cost of $2.5 billion, and is expected to reduce drastically the level of unemployment and youth restiveness in the country through employment opportunities. To him, the plant is expected to generate new jobs with top quality fertiliser being available and in sufficient quantities for the farmers.
He stated that agriculture accounts for 20 per cent of the nation’s GDP and that the new plant was an ambitious project that would provide both direct and indirect jobs, thereby reducing youth restiveness.
Dangote Fertiliser, according to him, would usher in a new era of agricultural entrepreneurs who will take to farming on large scales, providing food and raw materials for our industries
“Dangote Fertiliser is working with farmer associations, corporate farmers, NPK blenders, NGO/development partners and state governments all over Nigeria, and governments across Africa and beyond who are looking for sustainable approach to improving soil quality and farm yields,” he explained.
Also speaking at the occasion, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, said the country was indeed indebted to Aliko Dangote for his giant strides to add value to Nigeria’s economy.
According to him, “It is great that a Nigerian has taken not just this great initiative of helping to solve our perennial problem of importing petrochemical products, including fertilizer, but has taken advantage of the emerging huge market opportunity presented by recent global developments.”
Emefiele commended President Buhari for providing all the support needed to realise the project through the right economic policies and described the fertiliser plant as timely considering the recent developments in the global market, where prices of wheat, fertiliser and crude oil rose by over 20 per cent following the start of the Russia-Ukraine war.
“In addition to the lessons we learnt from the protectionist actions of countries during the early days of COVID-19, this investment is again a glaring testament to the foresight and tireless efforts of Mr. President in encouraging domestic production of items that can be produced in Nigeria, especially agriculture. This would not only help to enable greater productivity of our agricultural sector but also help in insulating Nigeria farmers from depending on imported fertiliser,” Emefiele stated.
He recalled that prior to 2015 when President Buhari came to office, Nigeria had a fertiliser shortfall of about 3.5 million tonnes per annum compared to the over 6 million tonnes per annum required in the country.
The minister of agriculture, Dr. Mahmood Abubakar, called on other investors to rise up to the occasion, noting that Dangote Fertiliser would help to solve the problem of fertiliser shortages in Nigeria. He also assured that the government would enforce standard in the industry to maintain quality.
Lagos state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu commended Alhaji Aliko Dangote for always blazing the trail, noting that Lagos state government was happy to be hosting many of his businesses.
The governor stated that Nigeria would quickly forget its many economic problems if another entrepreneur like Dangote could be replicated in other regions of Nigeria.
Nigeria To Regain Lost Cargoes As PMB Tours $1.5bn Lekki Deep Seaport
Meanwhile, President Buhari also toured the $1.5billion Lekki Deep Seaport yesterday, alongside Lagos State governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Transportation minister Rotimi Amaechi and other government officials.
The president, who came into the first deep seaport in Nigeria after commissioning Dangote Fertiliser located few kilometres away from the deep seaport, inspected the breakwater, quay wall and other landside facilities of the port.
The Lekki Deep Seaport, when operational, will help regain lost cargoes from neighbouring Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana and others African countries, naccording to the managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko.
In his speech, Bello-Koko said the Lekki Deep Seaport had been under construction for years, and would be ready for test-run in September after which the first commercial vessel can be received at the port.
“Some of the businesses we have lost to other neighbouring West African countries due to draught limitation will be regained. There will be employment creation and increased revenue for government. It will create competition and compel other terminal operators to up their game to reduce cargo dwell-time at their terminals. Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports have been operating far beyond their capacity, which means that the excess cargoes that have been going there would be diverted to Lekki Port,” he explained.
According to him, the port is located on about 90 hectares of land, is supposed to have three container terminals and will be the first automated port in Nigeria that will enable speedy clearing of goods.
Speaking earlier, the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the president toured the deep seaport “to publicise the project to Nigerians so that people will know this government is building the first deep seaport in Nigeria. The other ports in Nigeria are all river ports.”
According to the minister, the federal government will begin the construction of Bonny Deep Seaports after completion of the Lekki Deep Seaport.
“I am convinced that we would commence work in Bonny Deep Seaport before we leave office. Also, Ibaka Deep Seaport has gotten government’s approval and we are fast-tracking the approval of Badagry Deep Seaport, so they can also get their own approval.
“The next reason for the president coming is also to put the heat on them (promoters). You know that the port is almost ready, if not for the equipment, they can actually get this place ready before June, but they said the equipment are arriving by June 2022 and installation will take them till September and then it can be commissioned in September.”
Also speaking, the executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Emmanuel Jime explained that the Lekki port will change the face of maritime in Nigeria
“For the first time we are going to have the kind of vessels that have never berthed in our ports. This is the first deep seaport we are having in our country. From that perspective alone, that gives us the comfort and recognition that, as far as the economies of scale is concerned, we are going to have a boost in commercial activities in ways that we have never envisaged and experienced before,” he said.
‘New Int’l Terminal To Facilitate 14m Passengers Annually, 3000 Jobs’
President Muhammadu Buhari also said the newly commissioned international terminal at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, will fast-track over 14 million passengers yearly and create 3000 direct and indirect jobs.
The terminal has 66 check-in counters, five baggage collection carousels, 16 immigration desks at arrival, 28 desks at departure, 8 security screening points, and six passenger boarding bridges with remote boarding and arrival.
Other facilities include two food courts, four premium lounges, 22 guest rooms, 16 airline ticketing offices, visa on arrival and port health facility, praying areas, 3,000sqm duty free spaces and over 5,000sqm let-table utility spaces
The president who disclosed this at the commissioning of the new international terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, also directed the minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, to fast-track the concession of the nation’s airports and completion of Abuja Airport second runway.
According to the president, the minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning had been directed to source special funding for the completion of the second Abuja airport runway project.
The president further disclosed that the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had been directed to conclude the titling of the approved 12,000 hectares of land to accommodate the runway and other developmental projects.
“This improvement, will increase airport operations and management services to about 14 million passengers per annum, with the attendant positive multiplier-effects of creating about 3,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities for our youths, increased inflow of Foreign Direct Investments and exponential growth in the Gross Domestic Product.
In his speech, Sirika urged the president to beckon on the governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, to clear the $283million trapped foreign airlines’ fund.
He also called for the CBN to prioritise access to forex for all carriers, local and foreign airlines, and to work out mechanism to urgently clear existing backlogs to forestall subsequent build-up.
The aviation minister, who also lamented the scarcity of aviation fuel and how it disrupted flight operations across the country, asked the president to direct the NNPC to import Jet-A1 in good quantities.
He also said that the aviation roadmap approved by the president was being undertaken through Public Private Partnership (PPP), with his ministry working with Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to ensure a credible and transparent process.